Parks Bonifay is 8 months old and, like most babies his age, he has yet to take his first step or utter his first word (he’s still breast-feeding). But unlike other tots, Bonifay has won himself a line in the Guinness Book of World Records. At the tender age of 6 months and 29 days, the Winter Haven, Fla. lad became the youngest water-skier ever.
Pulled by a 250-horsepower Master Craft, the 17-pound Parks broke the record (by more than a month) at the waterskiing capital of the country, Florida’s Cypress Gardens. Parks dropped the handle on his first try, but the second time he skied 100 feet along the shoreline as his mother, Betty, 31, ran behind her son. The theme from Rocky blared forth from the loudspeakers, and later Parks signed his first autograph (a shaky “X” with an assist from Mom).
Waterskiing comes naturally to the Bonifays. Father Pete, 35, was a professional for 17 years, and Betty didn’t quit her job as a Cypress Gardens water ballerina until after her first trimester of pregnancy. “So he had three months of waterskiing under his belt before he was born,” notes Betty. Parks started swimming lessons in the bathtub at one month and received a pair of pint-size skis for Christmas. His parents stuck his feet in the skis and pulled him around the living room with a rope. He graduated to shallow water at six months. Though one bystander accused the Bonifays of child abuse, Pete thinks such criticism is all wet. “If Parks didn’t like it,” says Dad, “we wouldn’t do it.” Adds Betty, “He only cried once, and that was because he hadn’t had a nap that day.”